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Bard Guide by StephenHawking
Version: 0.95 | Updated: 05/23/2003
Bard Faq v .95 by StephenHawking firstname.lastname@example.org I. Introduction -Basics and manual erratas -Bard song chart -Common things to deal with as a bard -Specific comments of the bard. II. Character creation -Races for the bard -Character builds -Warrior bard -Ranged bard -Caster bard III. Spell/skill specifics IV. PvP section V. Conclusion, credits, etc. Version History .95- Realized my version error, polished up most of the spelling errors. Added a couple of sections. It's really quite done, except for a more in depth analysis of the caster bards. .90- "Damage types not working" bug in basics section. I got done most of the skills, a lot of the PvP tactic and picking out equipment you need vs most of the character types, a bit more explanation on lvling, what to take, etc, and fixed up the stuff listed here. Also did some skill/spell, but really, its not needed for the bard that much. Added a small section on stoneskins and bard song piercing it. I took out the elf power attacker build as it's exploiting a bug that should be fixed. Version 1.30 for NWN should remove attack of oppurtunity, leading to less need for the 2 barbarian lvls, though I still enjoy them. .85- Semi-big revision to the bard chart, thanks Asimpkins, added some corrections and suggestions for a couple builds. Changed the called shot note to bug, to give you an idea of how to work it, taken from bioware forums. Added Ideal stopping levels for the bard. Added one rogue bard character build. .80- First version, has most things in that are essential. ********************************************************************* I. Introduction. Bards are typically seen as lute wielding pansies who are dubbed the jack of all trades, and master of none. When in fact they are masters of song, and because of this they are masters of damage in Neverwinter Nights. Only the ranger compares, and not even that closely or as versatile as the bard. Bards have one of the best saves, pretty good base attack, and some very nifty things available to them that no other class can boast about. They also have a nice hefty spellcraft bonus to saves, which no other meleer has. They also have discipline that only 2 other classes in NWN have as a class skill, making them as good a fighter for skill wise, and then some. Of course their weakness is lower hit points, arcane spell failure, a demanding stat spread and slower spell progression than the other arcane casters, but a smart player can compensate for them all. They also lack the martial weapons and heavy armor feat, but that can be quickly compensated with a multi in a warrior class as many builds suggest. Bards are one of the best archers, even the rogue with sneaks is obsolete later vs non-sneakable stuff, where as the bard can dish out an easy 20 with normal arrows, and make them magical with bard song to pierce soak. If they crit with a flare arrows, they deal 84 dmg max, even a meleer would gawk at that damage from long range. At close range with point blank, they deal 87 damage on a crit. This isn't a basic character guide, though I tried to cover the basics of what is needed to know, and cover the surprises and benefits I found as a bard. Also I feel bard is very good as a focus in a class not pure, i.e. up to 16 lvls but past that, I feel the benefits aren't worth the troubles. **** Basics and manual erratas **** ~Bardic music- this lasts 10 rounds per use*. All the song bonuses stack from previous levels of bard. The bard song doesnt refresh on another use, so timing is crucial if you wanna keep it constantly up. Things marked with an asterik are changes from the manual I found. You need the actual lvls in bard, i.e. a ftr 8/bard 1 will have bard lvl 1 even if he saved up skill points to have 12 ranks in perform. All bonuses are total song bonuses for that level. Thank Asimpkins for the revised chart. - 1st Level & Perform 3* - +1 to Attack & Damage. - 2nd Level & Perform 6 - +1 to Attack, Damage, & Will. - 3rd Level & Perform 9 - +1 to Attack, Will, & Fortitude. +2 to Damage. - 6th Level & Perform 12 - +1 to Attack, Will, Fortitude, Reflex, & Skills. +2 to Damage. - 8th Level & Perform 15 - +1 to Will, Fortitude, Reflex & Skills. +2 to Attack & Damage +8 to temporary Hit Points. - 12th Level* & Perform 18 - +1 to Will, Fortitude, & Reflex. +2 to Attack, Damage, Skills, & Dodge AC. +8 to temporary Hit Points. - 14th Level & Perform 21 - +1 to Will, Fortitude, & Reflex. +2 to Attack & Skills. +3 to Damage & Dodge AC. +16 temporary Hit Points. - 15th Level & Perform 24 - +2 to Attack, Will, Fortitude, & Reflex. +3 to Damage & Skills.* +4 to Dodge AC. +16 temporary Hit Points. - 16th Level & Perform 30* - +2 to Attack, Fortitude, & Reflex. +3 to Damage & Will. +4 to Skills* +5 to Dodge AC. +20 temporary Hit Points. - 17th Level & Perform 35* - +2 to Attack, Fortitude, & Reflex. +3 to Damage & Will. +5 to Dodge AC & Skills.* +22 temporary Hit Points. - 18th Level & Perform 40* - +2 to Attack, Fortitude, & Reflex. +3 to Damage & Will. +5 to Dodge AC. +6 to Skills* +24 temporary Hit Points. - 19th Level & Perform 45* - +2 to Attack, Fortitude, & Reflex. +3 to Damage & Will. +5 to Dodge AC. +7 to Skills.* +26 temporary Hit Points. - 20th Level & Perform 50* - +2 to Attack, Fortitude, & Reflex. +3 to Damage & Will. +5 to Dodge AC. +10 to Skills* +32 temporary Hit Points.* 30+ perform is harsh for 16+ lvl bard song, how do you do it? 16th lvl song can either be done with 23 ranks, skill focus, and 18 charisma, or swapping in greater gloves of the minstrel before you sing. Typically I have my gloves next to my bard song for the hotkey. I also find the benefits of going past lvl 16 in bard and the required perform unfeasible as well without wearing so many +perform items to make it undesirable. The skill bonus is when you sing the song, so it doesnt apply to bard song initially sadly. Temporary hit points- These hit points go first when being hit by a monster. But the cool benefit is that you can actually regen to the max of the temporary hit points. Ie, at my bard song max hp is 236/220, but i'm at 215 with 5 regen, within the bard song period, I regen up to 236/220 though. Basically think you have regen of your temporary hit points divided by 10 per round. lvl 16 bard, 20 temp hit points/ 10 = 2 hit points per round, as these hit points go first, or you regen up to it. This helps the bard's weakness of hit points a lot. Bardic lore- It shows up on your actual character sheet if people were wondering about that. Being flatfooted and the bard- Many combat moves because bioware decided to put in animations, drop you out of combat. For example, bard song provokes an attack of oppurtunity, which wouldn't be so bad, except you lose all dodge AC, haste, boots, dex, etc The solution to this is generally taking 2 lvls of barbarian, or making sure to click on the monster again as quickly as possible. Taunt and the bard- This is a great skill, helping both comrades and yourself in battle because of your lower base attack. The draw back is that when its qued up the attack icon takes preference in the upper left hand corner, so you must click on the attack icon to drop out of combat, taunt, wait for the message, and attack again. During this time the bard is particularly vulnerable as the bard is flatfooted. Can lower AC by 6, can be used every round or 6 seconds. Spells- Mage armor, prot from alignment, bull's strength, cat's grace, ghostly visage, haste, warcry, improved invis are what I consider essential. Every other spell is of limited use, or by the time you get them, like ethereal visage, useless. Even haste is kinda obsolete with haste items. Ghostly visage allows for a bard to pretty much shrug off all attacks at low levels, and it stacks with swordsman, archer, brawler, belts etc. It's like having a permanent stoneskin for low lvls. Dodge bonuses- They do stack, but are capped at +10 bonus. Thus a 16th lvl bard song, haste, and mage armor (which gives 1 dodge) will give you the max dodge. So I generally wear a haste item from a non-boot source if i can, and use my spells and song to free that slot up, i.e. plain striding boots +5 helps the bard's poor hitpoints compared to a meleer a lot. Besides, its funny when the bard has as many hit points as the fighter and deals more damage. The bard is one of the top AC builds for a meleer without sacrficing a boot slot to weaker haste boots because of this. Why bards deal the most damage- The warcry spell and bard song. Its a source of damage no other class comes close to except for a ranger. These two things add +5 damage, and with specialization (which a bard should always take with ftr multi-class) they deal even more damage. So ranger 15/ftr 1 specialized deals +6 vs hated, where as a bard14/ftr 1 deals +7 vs everything with all other things being equal. This also helps a lot in a group when everyone is dealing 5 more damage per hit. A cleric with war domain comes close, but with his need for focusing on wisdom his fighting stats become weaker, and thus the bard pulls ahead. Also the domain powers dont last nearly as long as bard song, without at least 20 charisma. He only pulls ahead at least 15 lvls of cleric with the prayer and bless spell, but a bard can afford to sing right before battle, where as a cleric generally has to get as close as possible and use his domain power. Attack bonus cap- There's a cap of +10 to attack bonus from magical or bard sources, even though it doesnt show up on your character sheet. Basically, even though you can get +2 warcry, +2 song, +5 weapon, +5 stat ability to attack for a total of 14, your actually only get added ten to your base attack and focus on the combat screen. This means, you can use lower end weapons and not suffer as much, but also means the attack bonus in terms of hitting (not the damage part) is a bit useless. Arcane spell failure- Take off armor to buff up. 45% spell failure even in plate armor isnt that much as all your spells are generally cast outside of combat. Just make sure your party understands you need to get naked for awhile because the armor is making you smelly, its no worse than having to wait for a cleric to buff up or whatever else. Hotkey your armor for easier use of removing it. Also, make sure to stash that shield before you cast as well, generally I always have the weapons/shields/armor hotkeyed. Damage types not working- Well here's a bug I dislike, basically if you have more than one damage type instead of taking the most favorable one, it takes the weakest for everything. For example, I deal 11 dmg of piercing, +3 bludgeoning from bard song. Instead of getting half damage from my arrows, for 5 or 6 damage, I instead deal 7 dmg max. Basically, I lose the bludgeoning bonus damage type as its counted as piercing vs the mob, so my ideal max would've been 8 dmg if bludgeon counted as bludgeon... Same applies for warcry song bonuses as it's slash. Basically if they got any resistance to a damage type and you're singing/warcrying with a bow and arrow, you dont get past their resistances. Withdrawing from combat- This is more for meleers if you need to disengage to use bard song and dont wanna get hit flatfooted. Basically, use the S key to step back a little bit, and you'll strike the monster from what it looks like 4 or 5 steps away and disengage from combat. This let's you then que up bard song and sing, and not get attacked from the mob. Timing is a little tricky, and it doesn't always work, but this is also a way to drop back to a cleric without turning around or losing your attacks. This is helpful for all meleers, especially vs bigger mobs like dragons and giants. Ideal stopping levels for a bard- Generally speaking, lvls 14, 15 and 16 are the best stopping points for the person who wants to be focused in the bard class. Lvl 12 isn't bad for the song bonuses, and you still are able to cast improved invisibilites. For people just looking to boost their damage and get a little use magic, bard lvl 3 is good as a small amount of multi classing. This is mainly due to the perform requirements that become unreasonable later, and the lack of good high level bard spells after 4th lvl spells or extended 5th ones from 4th. I heard multiclassing is bad, why do you have so many multi class?- I think bard and the rogue, while very different classes, definitely benefit from some multi classing as they're too weak as a pure class. Only real casters like wizards, sorcs, clerics get a big benefit out of staying pure with their class, but even then, a lvl or two can expand and enhance many abilities that they already have. The only exception to this rule is a monk, and you're not really a monk. Some of your builds seem a little harsh on xp penalty, how do you avoid it? As for avoiding xp penalties, I generally pick human for most builds. But for example the elf archer build, you can go pure bard up to level 12 with that race and still use bows. Then you'd probably want to go bard 12/rgr 2/ftr 1 because this allows you to max the bard skill as much as possible without getting the 40% xp penalty. This applies to all builds and humans will find themselves not having a penalty til much 17+ lvls. By that time you should earn enough xp that the change is neglible, or at least not as harsh. What order should I take the bard lvls or ftr lvls? I generally advocate mostly pure bard. The best times to get ftr lvls is to either get them right away for more flexibility in weapons/armor (i.e lvl 2) or get them when you can pick up specialization (i.e. bard 5/ftr 1). You should also try to plan the feats according to what lvl you want to gain them at, as well as your perform needed, and spells you want. Basically, recall you can get your total lvls +3 in a skill and add stat bonuses for your perform needed. So for the warrior bards who generally dont have 16 charisma right away, they should consider consider going bard 7/ftr 1, as the lvl 8 bard song is unreasonably, and if you started with 15 charisma, you can raise it to 16 for haste at that point for more damage and AC per round. The best advice I can give, is, get lvls as you feel you need them in the module. If there's enough great items for the module to be dead easy, then the faster warrior lvls or the like come in more handy to keep you dmg output high with more attacks. On the otherhand if there's no magical gear, the bard spells become a godsend in these modules, but even then, there's some clearcut spells you want right away as well as fighter abilities. (i.e. ghostly visage + bull's strength and a ftr lvl makes you a decent tank at low lvls for damage and defense.) ********************************************************************* II. Creating your character. **** 1. Race **** Human- This race is good for all classes, and bards can benefit from the bonus skill points as well as feat. Pretty much the easiest and best choice for my multi class builds, simply because they get no penalties to multi classing if they follow the rules of it. Elf- The racial bonus to dex, and aptitude for bows makes them perfect for the archer bard variants, and the two weapon fighter bards. Of course, the drawback is weaker hitpoints on an already weak hp class, but it might not matter if you keep that in mind when positioning yourself. Gnome- These guys make surprisingly good bards, their small size can be a benefit for the two handed bard, and allows them to use the bard threat build two handed. And they cover the bard's handicap of less hit points better. Halfling- I really think halflings were drawn the best, gnomes I'm sorry have really deformed arms, where as the halfling actually looks normal. Any how they make good archer bards if you dont mind being limited to shortbows. There's plenty of good slings and throwing weapons anyhow, and the lucky feat is not to be underestimated. Also halfling good aim feat only works with throwing axes and shurikens, so darts aren't good. Dwarf and Half orc- they make decent bards, but they can't focus on it as much as the other classes. They generally are best with 12 lvls of bard or so. Half-elf- These stepchildren of humans and elves got the poor end of both sides, and I think besides wanting to roleplay one, you get no benefits out of playing this race for the sacrifice of bonus skill and feat. Or being elfy. In fact they look exactly like humans, so who can really tell if you're human or half elf anyhow. Name yourself Tanis Quarter-millionth-Elven if you really want as human. They can do the builds easier like humans, but the benefit of this is quickly outweighed by their bastardness. **** 2. Character builds and their variants. **** ~****Melee bard:****~ ~Two handed, focus on bard~ Race: any, though humans always have an easier time with these builds Class mix: bard 16/warrior classes 4 (generally barbarian 2/ftr 2) Str 16 +4 from lvls dex 8 con 16 int 10 wis 8 cha 15 +1 from lvls Base hp: 224 hit point base, not great, but not shabby. Max con adds 100 more hp. Feats: power attack, cleave, focus two hander, specialized two hander, improved critical two hander, toughness, usually a focus/specialized in another one handed weapon for sword/shield style of fighting in a mob. Generally I always take save feats as well, iron will, great fortitude, lightning reflexes, just pick amongst them if you know you face certain things or to cover a handicap. Extend spell feat is also very useful for warcry as your 4th are generally taken by improved invises, and extended warcries last awhile by the time you get them. Skills before stats: perform 22, use magic 12 spellcraft 15, taunt maxed, and spare points into heal or discipline, or both if human. Taunt covers your handicap of a lower base attack nicely. -Why barb 2 over ftr 4? This is mainly so you dont get caught flatfooted. Now you might think this is insignificant with a 8 dex, and 12 dex with spells or whatever, but you lose all dodge bonuses if you are caught flatfooted. That means haste AC, song AC, and mage armor dodge AC... That's 10 AC right there. And with a bard constantly taunting, or singing, etc, this is very dire news indeed. Variant ~Two handed, focus on combat~ Race: any, though humans always have an easier time with these builds Class mixes: bard 14/warrior classes 6 (rgr 5/ftr 1 could be one) Str 16 +4 from lvls dex 8 con 15 +1 from lvls int 14 wis 8 cha 14 Feats: power attack, cleave, focus two hander, specialized two hander, improved critical two hander, toughness, usually a focus/specialized in another one handed weapon for sword/shield style of fighting in a mob. Or save feats like iron will, great fortitude, lightning reflexes. Skills: perform, taunt, heal, spellcraft, discipline, use magic maxed. 13 spare points for whatever. HP base: 232 max. or 236. -Why take rgr 5? Kinda like being a limited ranger, you now get 2 damage vs 2 hated stuff. Not only do you top a ranger normally for damage with songs/spells. You top them even more vs a couple hated stuff by 3 damage now, instead of just 1. Its kind of a trade off, dont get caught flatfooted, or deal more damage. ~***Ranged Bards****~ ~Archer bard, focus on bard~ Race: gnome, elf, halfling, humans are generally best. Class mixes: bard 16/barb 2/ftr 2 str 10 dex 16 +4 from lvls con 14 int 12 wis 8 cha 15 +1 from lvls Feats: point blank, rapid shot, focus ranged, improved critical ranged, specialized ranged, toughness. After that, called shot is vaguely useful. Extend spell, empower spell feat (if low magic campaign) or weapon finesse. -Called shot bug - confirmed in 1.28 If you queue a called shot AFTER your last attack in the round but BEFORE the end of the round, it will not execute. It will instead go into the action queue and its icon will appear and disappear each round but NEVER be executed. Called Shots only appear to work if you queue them while you have shots remaining in the round, i.e. in the brief lag between the start of the round and your first shot or between shots if you have multiple attacks. skills: same as two hander, but i generally take heal over discipline. And max out the spellcraft and use magic. ~Archer bard, focus on combat~ Race: gnome, elf, halfling, humans are generally best Class mixes: bard 14 or 15/warrior classes 4 or 5 str 10 dex 16 +4 from lvls con 16 int 10 wis 8 cha 14 +1 from lvls Feats: same as above. skills: same as two hander original. Notes: This build is one of my favorites. It doesnt get 6th lvl spells or the best bard song, but it gets the best damage and very good hp. All I ever use for the 5th lvl lvl slot is extended warcries, and 6th lvl the rare energy buffer, which is negated by good items by then. ~Jack of all trades ranged bard~ Race: generally human. Elf works as well. Class mix: bard 15/warrior classes 5 (at least ftr 1 usually) str 10 dex 16 +4 from lvls con 14 int 14 wis 8 cha 14 +1 from lvls Feats: weapon finesse, point blank shot, rapid shot, toughness, knockdown, improved knockdown, weapon focus, specialized weapon, improved critical weapon. skills: Max perform, use magic, taunt, spellcraft, discipline, heal generally. Comments: Originally I was disappointed in the weapon finessers for damage but the main focus of this is archery, with an option of being able to go toe to toe. The damage output is kept relatively high with self cast buffs along with bard song and warcry. Improved knockdown along with your dex would allow for disabling of targets in melee range. ~Caster bards/ranged~ ~Summoner archer bard, focus on healing/summons~ Race: any, though elf, halfling, humans are generally best *Originally posted by Wolfy42.* Here is a simple primary bard who gets alot of bang for his buck. Human Bard/cleric/fighter level 17/1/2 Cleric domains animal and Healing. All healing spells from bard are still empowered all summoning spells are still buffed up to next level. Specialize with fighter level in weapon of your choice. You will end up having the equivalent of a level 7 mage/cleric summoning spell which lets you summon a huge elemental and boost it's stats with your songs. You will end up with plenty of empowered cure criticals which heal 6d8+17 at level 20 a pop for an average of 41hp per spell. You will have improved invisibility. and War Cry which is good for summons/henchmen again. You will have dismissal which is your nemesis as well. You will have decent damage reduction spells like Ethereal Visage and Energy buffer. You will have a few stat boosting spells bulls str and cats grace both are usefull and allow you to go the light armour route or heavy armour depending on what you want to do. My personal comments: Also been stated to use rog 2 instead of the fighter lvls and with high dex that way you can sit back and shoot behind your pet and have evasion. +3 composite longbows are the bards best best with empowered bull strength on, unless there's some insane bow on your server that's available. ~Misc~ ~Rogue bard fighter, picker/combat focus~ Race: any, though elf, halfling, humans are generally best Class mix: Bard 12/rog 4/ftr 4 Stats can be either like the archer of melee types. You want to have at least 14 charisma though for spells. Feats, pick appropriate to your combat focus. You probably want at least 14 int with this build, and get skills like disable traps, search, and open locks all maxed out. You still need some perform, probably 16 ranks, but not as much as most bards. Just save skill points till you take bard lvls. You can actually go 12 int with this build and start as rogue for extra skill points, but it's tough for most classes for the xp penalties, but again, humans have it easier. The benefit of this build is you got improved invisibility, as well as sneaks and uncanny dodge feat from rogue lvl 3. The ftr lvls allow for a few more feats. Singing before you attempt anything difficult adds a skill bonus that no other rogue can boast about without another bard to team up with. Its not as good as a trickery cleric, but you still have cheaper magical arrows, deal good damage through bard song, and some sneaks. ~Rogue bard ftr, picker/spell focus~ Race: human, though halfling can do it ok as well generally. Class mix: rog 3/ftr 2/bard 15 This build has the advantage if you start with rogue you can just barely max out all the rogue picking rogue skills, and max out the 4 big bard skills of perform, use magic device, spellcraft, and taunt. If you're human, you can actually max out heal skill (which i find useful in almost every module.) Though you miss that last attack you gain a lot more spells. ********************************************************************* III. Spell, feats, and skill specifics. You can actually look at many other guides for skills/spells, but I'll place them in later. The only skills not explained that bard has is perform, but that's pretty simple, more perform for better bard song. The basics covered most of it all. Most of the feats/skills listed are self explanatory this is more of an in depth look, or should I take this skill. If it's not mentioned, I probably dont recommend it. Use magic device- skill This skill let's you use items not made for your class or alignment which is very useful. You need 25 ranks to master this class and typically bards will have 14 charisma at least, making is easy to master. The chart on page 178 explains the skill, the value of the item is from toolset if you're unsure if you can use it. Good stopping points generally are 15 ranks with bonuses, (ie 13 with 14 charisma), 20, and 25. I find for the plate bard with OC items gets a big use out of being able to use that lawful tower shield +5 for example, but it's pricey from use magic til much later. Unlike the rogue, the benefit of using scrolls and wands aren't very apparent as most, if not all, items like these are useable by bard. Discipline- skill This skill lets you resist a combat move such as called shot, knockdown, disarm, sap. They have to hit you first, and as a bard you have one of the better ACs out there, and with the attack bonus cap of 10, only +38 can be the max attack. Then you roll against the attack roll with your discipline skill to resist the attempt. Heal- skill This skill has been discussed in other guides, but i consider it very worthwhile if you have the points to spare. Empower spell- feat I only take this feat in low magic item campaigns. Where typically you dont see any + stat items, etc. This basically let's me max out a lot more stats than any other could as well as have all the enhancements of a bard. Just empower bull's strength, and cat's grace. The problem with that though is that your improved invises get taken up like this, but you can solve this later with.... Extend spell- feat Using extended warcries and improved invises not only have the benefit of freeing up your 4th lvl slot, they make them longer as well. Generally I like this feat a lot, empowered is more if you feel the module has almost no +stat items in it. Still spell- feat While this compensates for the armor penalties, most of the time its better to use an extended version, as there are very few spells you actually want to cast in a pinch. And most dex bards will be fine without this feat regardless. Mindfog + fear + confusion, etc (all the bard will save spells)- These spells are decent, but the problem is many of them are cast at a lower DC than the mages, leading to them being underused at best. I used confusion and fear coupled with mindfog, but the initial mindfog with my lower charisma, couldn't pierce their saves where as the mages in the group will have no troubles. Their limited uses makes it a tough call not to spend an empowered stat buff or improved invis or haste for your spells per day. They're also all will based, giving them limited use. If the module is very weak in those saves, these spells seem like a godsend, and also allow you to disable groups of opponents very easily. Summons I to VI- While I do like them for a little easier lvling at the beginning, they never made much of a difference in a group or later lvls. They're good to take as a getaway mob though. The elemental you gain with the cleric lvl isn't to be underestimated though with the buffs/songs you can pass out. See invisibility- 2nd lvl bard spell I generally always take this spell after the stat ones and ghostly visage. This is basically a poor bard's version of true sight, but helps a lot vs invisible people in the PvP scene and lasts for a long time. Though rogue sneaking will still get the jump on you, they generally can't pierce your 52 AC if you're a plate/tower shield using bard, and since you retain dodge bonuses if you got barb 2, then you won't worry. They sneak for like 70 dmg the first round, because one or two attacks miss when you're buffed, and then you can just club em down. Of course, scroll uses provide a problem still, but I generally always keep the gear listed on that I have vs mages. Dismissal spell- 4th lvl bard spell For summon dependent casters like druids and mages, dismissal works wonders not to mention as an on the fly caster, you can use this situational spell as needed. Typically though, summons have never made a dent in me as a meleer bard and a ranged one I could just hang out of sight all the time. Warcry spell- 4th lvl bard spell. Duration is 1 round per lvl, and centered around caster in a big radius. Adds +2 hit, and +2 damage, and fears enemies. I found the fear effect more annoying than anything, but the archer bard can get some use out of it. Greater dispelling- 5th lvl bard spell. Mages just assume they're safe vs a big plate warrior tromping down the field even invised, and are surprised to see them cast greater dispel on them. This spell is of limited use, but for PvP or enemies with lots of buffs, having a chance to strip them is good. Then again, you can generally just kill whatever without too much worry. Ethereal visage- 5th lvl bard spell. This spell seems appealing at first, 20/+3 soak, and immunity to 3rd lvl spells or less seems awesome. Unfortunately, by then most mobs have better spells and better weapons to pierce that soak, so I find it very limited because of this. There's also the duration to worry about, being only 1 round per lvl, and needing so many +cha items to get the 6th lvl bard spell at 16th, makes it unfeasible to cast extended, or to cast a lot of. Basically I only use this rarely to roleplay a ghost or something. Ice storm and other 6th lvl spells- Ice storm is really not going to win a battle I noticed at the lvl you get it as a bard. Its an ok softener for mobs, but really, its much better to just attack the mobs and make up the damage in about 2 rounds or so. Mass haste is ok, but with extended hastes in your arsenal and most modules having perma-haste, it's better to let the mages or travel clerics or yourself for a couple of people, handle most of the hasting job. You also have very limited amount of casting power even if you stayed pure in bard. ********************************************************************* IV. PvP with the bard. Stoneskins- A +3 weapon in the hands of a bard that has reached at least +2 attack from songs can pierce stoneskins, a mage feels safe in low powered campaigns vs meleers with premonition but not with a bard around. This applies to the attack bonus of bows as well, i.e. that composite longbow +3 will pierce stoneskins. You can also use a plain old +1 weapon with warcry and songs to pierce stoneskins, and if you really need too, drink a bless or aid potion with these for a non magical weapon to pierce it. Archers- I'll say a quick thing, the archer bards can do a lot of great PvPing with unlocked camera and shallow/long angles. Since you appear half faded with improved invisibility and far away, most people have trouble seeing you. The benefit over a rogue is that you don't need to get within 30 feet to make your bow effective with sneaks, and as a hasted force, you can run long circles around anyone and not be spotted. True sight is also notoriously short sighted letting your first shots land quite easily. Bard PvP vs meleers. A fully geared up bard in plate/tower shield can get 52 AC a lot easier with their songs bonuses. Which means, with most combat manuevers suffering a -4 to hit, they'll have problems getting it to hit and attempt on you in the first place, and you should be even able to resist these attempts with this skill. Just start out with a big two hander if you notice the other guy has one too, as this negated the size bonus of larger weaps for disarming. This coupled with concealment from improved invisibility, give you an edge over every other class. A thief hood is good vs melee fights. Also starting with a cheap flare weapon/shield is usually advised to see if they have disarm as well. I mean a +0, d6 flare weapon, looks the same as a +5 +2d6 flare weapon, and you can change weapons appropriately. I always keep about 3 or 4 different weapons hotkeyed for fast drawing. Its no big loss to see your weapon on the ground if they can't hit you in the first place. Greater belts pose a problem, but just have different damage types that look similar, i.e. a rapier is hard to tell from a longsword sometimes, but most meleers just assume people have slashing. Also, there's currently a bug if you add bonus damage type slashing and it was a rapier, it gets resisted just like a longsword, where it should've been a bonus. You can also switch to full damage mode and hope to pierce their resistances. If they have even more than that for all types, I'm usually at a loss of what to do except use scrolls and wands on them, or use a two hander with a good threat range, and good massive crits. If they got belts, you should too, hopefully, so swap as needed for them. Taunting is also essential if you both have high ACs, and only barbarians and paladins will really have it to use vs a bard. Taunt, then try a combat move, it just might work if you guys are just pounding at each other. Try to make your gear have regen stuff, as coupled with your temporary hit points from bard will make you regen the hits faster than they can dish out. Use the withdrawing tactic on players too, its annoying for meleers to chase you 2 steps, while you're still hitting them 4 or 5 more times, and they only get one attack. Heal kit as needed, a critical from a scythe hurts a lot, but not as much if you can just heal kit the damage easily. And with concealment/AC on your side only a very few lucky blows will take you out. vs spellcasters. Much like fighters, immunities items are crucial to surviving PvP vs a spellflinger. Make sure to have immunity death effect as the bare minimum. After that, go for freedom, level/stat drain, negative energy protection for immunities if at all possible. Finally use a ring of elemental resistance. I listed the order of importance of stuff. Its better to wear a cloak of freedom vs a mage than a cloak of protection +5 or whatever, unless the mage is gonna melee you for some odd reason. In fact, its generally best to always wear anti mage gear. Wear immune mind effects as well. Between your spellcraft bonus to saves, your bigger hp pool, dismissal spell, greater dispel, and being able to pierce stoneskins in any campaign you should be easily able to make a dent into a mage without too many troubles And you can ask to praticipate in the arcane duels, as technically you are an arcane spellcaster. Mages can't really make the concentration check when you hit them for 20+ dmg over and over, and they generally dont have the hide skill letting you scout them out with see invis and being invis yourself. Use heal kits as needed, though it's not essential as vs clerics generally. vs clerics/druids This fight will either be more of a melee type fight, spellcaster fight, or both as most clerics are. Always keep the death immune item on that you have for this kind of fight, as implosions are pretty common as well as fingers. The negative protection item is also crucial vs harm, as this basically makes you take 0 from those spells. Also always keep on freedom items as well, as creeping doom can't be resisted, and being stuck longer in it is detrimental to a bard's health with the slow down effect of it. Immunity mind effects helps a lot as well vs hammer of gods and stun spells. Keep heal kits, you can heal kit the damage a lot faster if you have the skill maxed as a bard, and between regen, etc, even a sun cleric constantly trying to burn you with little light rays, will be sweating when he's out of spells and you're only at barely injured. 60 damage from empowered searing still hurts, but on a good kit +10 check and max heal, you can heal 54 hp, add in bard song bonus, and you heal 57 with bard lvl 16 song. That should see you through a searing light spam. After that, if they choose to melee you, you can taunt/knock em down silly usually. Or since you basically know how to face any meleer, it won't be much of a problem, taunting is tougher vs clerics, but ah well. vs archers/rogues Well I have a tough time with the two hander, as you still gotta find the archer. But vs a rogue archer who generally relies on sneaks, the damage from arrows and ranged stuff is piddling to your regen from song and items. With your spells and high AC, generally not being flatfooted, most rogues will still have a tough time hitting with more than their first attack. The concealment really bugs them, the immunity to spells you have will bug them as well for scrolls, and the fact they generally have weaker will saves, makes them easy prey to bard spells. Typical fight with rogue: Rogue: (Sneak damage 70+) Gotcha! (all other attacks miss) darn.... Bard: (heal kits damage) Falalala~ Rogue: Darn <questionable sexuality> bard! (pulls out meteor swarm scroll) Bard: Falalala~ (casts hold person) Rogue: Curse my weak will saves! (Dies promptly after 1 round of combat.) I like to say I respect the rogue, but PvP wise, they got a tough time vs a bard. Though I do like the heavy hitting rogue 16/warrior classes 4 but they dont really rely on their base class, much like a bard shouldn't either except to enhance their effectiveness. In no way do I think the bard is the end all for all PvP, but for most of it, they're pretty good, and with spellcraft to saves, a lot tougher for spells than most combat oriented classes even if they lack immunity to whatever. Harm is still a problem though. Also NWN is fun for PvP, but its definitely not made for it, it was made for player vs monster encounters where you sing to your group and beat down the monsters silly. Also, any smart PvPer can do just about anything with their class and win. ********************************************************************* V. Conclusion, credits, etc. First off I'd like to thank the gamefaqs for hosting this guide as well as the forum. The forum is generally where I refined all my character builds and learned many good tips from others. Of special note, lurker discovered the bard lvl 16 perform thing, wolfy42 for his dedication to the the bard casters, Asimpkins for his revised chart, Caoslayer for bringing up use magic discussion, and many others who deserve thanks for their special encouragement and insight on the forums. If you got questions, post on the forums, I generally troll around there. You're free to distribute it, just give credit where's it's due. I'd also like to say, I only played to prelude, most of my builds are mult player ones. I'll add a PvP section in the next update. In conclusion, the bard has a lot to offer, just make sure to focus on a fighting stat, and dont spread yourself too thin for stats and trying to cover everything. Bards like casters, you generally have to wait some levels to get the full benefit, but they're usually not as handicapped as casters in the beginning for fighting. As the bard you're a jack of all trades, but trying to do everything by yourself is self-defeating for stat spread and for enjoyment of team playing.